When the idea of a vampiric tree crossed Aurelia's mind, she laughed to herself. What could a tree do to a person? How did the trees become vampiric in the first place? She let the thoughts bounce around her mind.
Daisuke turned to her, "I laughed the first time I heard it myself. My assumptions almost got me killed. After that, I never took any job handed to me lightly, and neither will you."
"Hmmm. Like the Al' Miraj. One would think the horned rodent is harmless and cute. I know I thought so, and then it pulled a full-grown cow through steel bars with little effort," Zinjo moved closer to Aurelia while he spoke.
Aurelia enjoyed his protectiveness. She did not require protection any longer, but to know he cared endeared the action to her heart. "I forgot about our first encounter with the Al' Miraj.
"Your tale illustrates the point well," He paused, "Can I ask you b
Daisuke's bird-like visage shifted to something more human. The midnight feathers faded and revealed the bright red skin beneath. Simple bamboo armor turned into a long flowing robe. A beard sprouted out of Daisuke's chin and snaked down his body. The long braided hair sprouted out the back of his head. His sandals left no marks where he stepped, "I am Sojobo, king of the Tengu people." Aurelia and Zinjo bowed before him, "You honor us with your presence, your majesty," Zinjo spoke in a respectful tone. "You may rise," Sojobo said in a tired tone, "No matter how long I have lived, the bowing still makes me feel uncomfortable," Sojobo admitted. Aurelia sheathed the Lion's Fang and sighed, "Come to think of it, the action grates on my nerves as well," Aurelia added thoughtfully. "We have come to ask your help..." "Yes, yes, the Lemurian runes. Why not slay your enemy?" Sojobo strolled down the forest path with his hands behind his back. He examined plan
Sojobo waved his hands, and a scroll along with a metal disc appeared in his hands, "Do not lose the disc, you cannot translate any of the Lemurian runes without it," He thrust them into Zinjo's arms, "Hold these, I need both my hands to work at the moment." His bright eyes twinkled as his hands began to move. "Aurelia of Shadowfen, you have proven your worth as a princess and as a warrior. I will speak of your deeds in the halls of my palace. Your name will carry the respect it deserves. In the past, I encountered a creature called the Anzu, winged lions, and guardians to the people they served." Aurelias back began to itch, and the fur in her hands began to fall out by the score, "What's happening?" She cried out. Two lumps began to roll back and forth under her shoulder blades. The leather armor tore and ripped as two new appendages burst from them. Snow white feathers lined the new limbs. Her blackened hair went platinum and fell around her shoulders in waves.
Lord Nian, Aurelia, and Zinjo watched the Clockwork guild from a rooftop. According to Nian, their security made the emperors look like children with wooden swords. Each guard held a long curved blade in one hand while the other shot rounded explosives. "How many bolts do they have?" Zinjo asked. I want them to waste their long-range weapons first.""Are you crazy," Nian peered through the spyglass again, "If we try that, we run the risk of harming innocent people. I do not want to dishonor my name with such a victory.""Neither do I," Aurelia opened and closed the parasol in thought, "How high can they shoot?" Aurelia saw an opportunity to test her new abilities."You are not testing out Sojobo's gift in front of all these people," Zinjo crossed his arms and turned away from her, "You take enough risks with your life as it is.""Oh, and it's a good idea to piss off the Tengu king?""We'll be long gone before he realizes we didn't do as
Aurelia, Nian, and Zinjo waited until nightfall to make their move on the Clockwork Guild. The Mechanical guards patrolled with perfect vigilance. Aurelia could infiltrate the guild herself, but they had no idea what waited for them behind the iron doors. Nian appeared to be wrestling with a thought. His hand steadily tapped the hilt of his sword."Something on your mind Lord Nian?" Aurelia prepared to make the change."I thought to myself, if these people are using the souls of magical creatures to power the gems, we may encounter them in the guild as well." Lord Nian gestured to the guild, "Are we going to stand here all night, or are we going to fulfill your promise to Sojobo?"The princess closed her eyes and imagined herself in the change room where the lion suit and the Anzu suit waited for her. She chose the Anzu suit and felt the familiar stretch of the leather, and a slight pinch in her back reminded her she had wings as the Anzu.Zinjo's attract
The illusion of the Huli Jing's disguise drifted away, leaving humanoid foxes. A girl and a boy. Their curious eyes rested on Zinjo and Aurelia. They hung their heads, "We came to make the humans pay for what they did to our village." The woman growled fiercely and clenched her fists."What village?" Lord Nian demanded, "Why did you make the clockwork servants?" He brandished his sword at the Fox couple. They cowered in the face of the sharpened steel.The man put up his hands, "I am Han Xin, and this is my wife, Tang Sai. We are the former guards of the Huli Jing village. The people of this building are responsible for destroying our home."The bald man in the bright robe began to cry, "Don't ask me. I am just a metallurgist. They hired me to make the armor plating on their beloved machines."Zinjo shifted his attention to the other man, who looked sick to his stomach, "What of you? What do you know about these people?" He used the partisan to lift his f
Aurelia hated the boat almost as much as she hated the jungle. Long stretches in a limited space wore on her patience. Her only solace was her daily flights to the other ships with the refugees. They'd converse with her and talk about the day's events. At night, Zinjo would cradle her in his arms and give her comfort from the weariness of the day, "They have grown to love you as I have," Zinjo kneaded her shoulders and released the tension. "Will the rest of Shadowfen?" Aurelia moaned as Zinjos hand found a knotted shoulder muscle, "We have plucked these people out of their lives and are taking them across the world. What was I thinking?" Zinjo pulled her head back and kissed her, "You let your heart guide you as you have throughout this entire journey. You have earned the right to rule through your deeds." The healing hands continued their work. "We should take a gander at the Lemurian Runes. It's not like we don't have the time to decipher them," Au
The Nightingale weighed anchor near the hidden kingdoms of Antilla. A secret island dedicated to religious practices. Zinjo strapped the partisan on his back, and Gael shook his head, "You can't come. The people here will tolerate one or two outsiders on their beach, but any more, and they will do everything in their power to keep us here. It is why we left the other ships behind." "Why would they shun visitors?" Aurelia asked. "They fear their enemies are still looking for them. I found this place by accident. Lucky for me, I had exotic goods to trade, or else they wouldn't have let me go," Gael smiled and rolled up a list. "I don't mind coming here. People don't ask too many questions." Zinjo seemed halfway to grumpy or sad. His facial expressions made it impossible to read him at times. It mattered little in the end, as his actions often spoke louder than his words. "I wish I could come on this journey, but Ayasu would say communion with gods is a personal
Upon her return to the ship, Aurelia sought out Zinjo right away. She almost knocked the door to the cabin off its hinges. "Zinjo, get up." She jumped on him with the weight of her lion form. "Gahhhh," the air left Zinjo's lungs in a hurry. He stared up at Aurelia, desperate to catch his breath. "What in Kivuli's name is wrong with you. I am all for being surprised awake, but what is that look in your eyes?" Aurelia clasped his hand and smiled, "I spoke with Amouria, and we have to get married so I can make the bottle or bottles." Zinjo stared at her like she was from the moon, "Excuse me?" Aurelia rolled her eyes and straddled her soon-to-be husband. Soft hands ran across the muscular torso, "Amouria will anoint me during the ceremony, and it will grant me the power to forge the bottle." "Are you sure you saw your goddess?" "She let me in on what Lebende Dunkelheit has been doing," Aurelia smacked him on the chest, "What's the matter?